A Transformational response to tragedy and crisis, Part II: Thoughts from a disaster relief veteran

In recognition of the magnitude of the Haiti disaster, and in the prayerful hope that each of us is thoughtfully seeking the guidance of God on how to mobilize our personal and corporate assets so that the character of God may be evident in and to us and our brothers and sisters in Haiti and to a world groaning under the weight of it all, we continue to devote our posts over the next week to the subject of a Transformational response to tragedy and crisis, asking:

  • What do you believe is a transformational response to disaster?
  • Are there any unique dynamics that Transformational Giving brings to such a response?

Today we hear from Mission Increase Foundation President Dave Farquhar, who, prior to serving at MIF, was one of the long-time cornerstones of Northwest Medical Teams, now Medical Teams International.

Few folks have seen as much up-close disaster as Dave has. (Er, not at Mission Increase, I mean. In the field. When he was at Northwest Medical Teams. You know what I mean.)

And yet, few folks have as much up-close experience with Transformational Giving as Dave, either.

So we asked Dave to share his thoughts on tragedy and transformation, especially in light of his sense that this present disaster may be among the largest and longest lasting of our lifetimes.

Here’s Dave:

I can see the wheels turning and many TGers wonder if sending a check in a situation like this is a transaction?  The answer is YES, and not all transactions are evil or bad.

All gifts to people and organizations are to some degree transactional.  Money has to transact, but the gift is not necessarily “transactional” in intent.  You may ask, “But I don’t know these organizations. Am I abdicating my responsibility or is this a lesser type of gift?”  That is a good question.  The answer is that sometimes you cannot know the end user, or the middleman organization, yet you feel compelled to give.  That is exactly what every donor feels as well.  I want to be a good steward and do good, but I don’t even know these people—but if I don’t give people will suffer.  That is the world of disaster relief, and much other giving as well, except in disaster relief all those thoughts and emotions are compressed into an urgency that does not come with giving to the girl scouts.

I have stood on the giving and receiving end of disasters supplies and seen people weep on both ends.  The givers weep as they send, and those who receive those truckloads of food, water and help, they weep and thank God as well.

When people send gifts, when they transact a check, the real issue is what is God stirring in their heart?  Urgency?  Impulsive giving?  Faith? Is God stirring at all?   Is the donor learning to hear from God?  Should they do more than just send a check?  If so—what?  I have encouraged people to seek out ways to multiply their giving by doing more than sending a check.  If this is a cause God is stirring in them, they need to take time to hear from God and serve.  That is exactly how Northwest Medical Teams, the disaster organization I served in, was born.  One man, Ron Post, was compelled by God to help in a disaster in Cambodia.  Instead of just cutting a check he got up and did what God was stirring him to do.  Is it normal to expect each donor to start a nonprofit like Ron did?  No.  But, what should we expect?  There is no answer to that question other than we teach people to give and serve in ways God directs.

To me, this is an amazing process.  Something stirs people to give.  Some of those stirrings are far more transformational than others.  We cannot label all giving to big boys [large nonprofit organizations] bad and giving to grass roots as more transformational.  I have seen serious corruption at the grass roots level and the big boy level that would turn you green.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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